Similar trends and outcomes are apparent when the British and Irish elections results are compared. They are of course part of a common European picture. But the immediate effect on the coalition governments at Westminster and in Leinster House differs. The Irish coalition is rocking. The Irish Times is even speculating that pressure from Labour may bring forward the 2106 election date. This would seem a perverse response. A factor for the longer term may be the relative revival of Fianna Fail after its 2011 decimation. The prospect of a Fine Gael/Fianna Fail coalition must now be looming larger. It seems more likely than a place in government for Sinn Fein. However this would hardly blight Sinn Fein’s prospects. A coalition of the traditional rivals envisages a right/left realignment of the Irish party system with Sinn Fein in a good position to take the leading role on the left unless Labour can stage a big recovery. There are of course all those Others including the welcome return of the nice Greens, recovered from the traumas of the coalition in hell. Oldies like me recall with shudders the results of all Charlie’s wheeling and dealing with only a handful of independents like Tony Gregory. Any coalition will be vulnerable to pressure from Sinn Fein who are now the largest party in Dublin City Council as they are in Belfast. It will need all the constraints imposed under the fiscal treaty to keep it on the straight and narrow.
No such excitement seems in prospect in England despite the rise of UKIP. Under a fixed term parliament a snap election is all but impossible. The composition of the next government remains up for grabs with the possibility of UKIP vying with the DUP or the SNP ( having lost the referendum) to hold the balance of power.
Election results compared
The Irish government is a Fine Gael/ Labour coalition elected by Single Transferable Vote.
The British government is a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition elected by first past the post.
There is some read across between Sinn Fein in the Irish Republic and UKIP in Great Britain. Both are untainted by the responsibilities of government and are on the rise. In both countries the minority coalition partner took a hammering but the party leaders responded differently. This may be because Sinn Fein represents a more focused threat in Ireland than UKIP does in England. Sinn Fein look like replacing Labour as the main party of working class support, with one caveat, the scale of “other” which is decisively the largest grouping.
IRISH RESULTS . THE GOVERNMENT IS A FINE GAEL/ LABOUR COALTION
1st Pref. Party Seats
24.0 FINE GAEL ` 232
25.3% FIANNA FAIL 266
7.2% LABOUR 51
15.2% SINN FEIN 157
28.3% OTHER 237
EUROPEAN ELECTION ( 6 out of 11 filled by 12.30 pm on Tuesday 27 May)
% 1st Pref. Party Seats
22.3% FG 1
22.3% FF 1
5.3% LAB 0
19.5% SF 2
30.6% OTH 2
GREAT BRITAIN RESULTS
THE GOVERNMENT IS A CONSERVATIVE/LIBERAL DEMOCRAT COALITION
Elections were held in 161 local authorities
Party Councils Seats
Labour 82 +6 2101 +338
Conservative 41 -11 1360 -230
Liberal Democrat 6 -2 427 -310
UKIP 0 0 163 +161
EUROPEAN ELECTION The Lib Dems cam sixth
Votes % Party Seats
27.49% +10.99 UKIP 24 – +11
25.40% +9.67 LABOUR 20 s +7
23.93% -3.80 CONSERVATIVE 19 -7
7.87% -0.75 GREEN 3 +1
2.46% + 0.34 SNP 2 – 0
6.87% -6.87 LIB DEM 1 -10
0.71% -0.13 PLAID CYMRU 1- 0
1.14% -5.10 BNP 0 -2
THE FATE OF THE LEADERS OF THE MINORITY COALITION PARTNERS
Eamon has quit but Nick looks like hanging on..
Eamon Gilmore’s resignation ( as deputy prime minister ( tanaiste) today brings to an end a seven year tenure as leader of the Labour Party.
During that time he lead the party to its best ever electoral performance, winning a total of 37 Dáil seats including 18 in Dublin in the 2011 general election, which saw it overtake Fianna Fáil and become the second biggest party in the State.
But the bombast from that campaign, including slogans such as ‘Gilmore for Taoiseach’ and ‘Frankfurt’s way or Labour’s way’ would come back to haunt the party as it implemented ever more unpopular austerity measures with senior Government partners Fine Gael.
Will the next Labour leader stay the course with Fine Gael?
Gilmore’s downfall may bring forward the date of the next general election
The electoral oblivion apparently confronting the Liberal Democrats as led by Nick Clegg was underscored on Monday by leaked opinion polls in four seats showing that the party will be wiped out.
Commissioned by a Lib Dem supporter from ICM and subsequently passed to the Guardian, the polling indicates that the Lib Dem leader would forfeit his own Sheffield Hallam constituency at the next election.
The deputy prime minister said he accepted that many people had serious questions about his leadership. “I don’t begrudge any individual for raising searching questions, asking challenging questions about strategy and about leadership. It is the most natural thing in the world after the electoral losses of the last few very, very difficult days.”
The damning verdict comes after a crestfallen and visibly exhausted Clegg said in the early afternoon that he would not buckle in the face of woeful European election results which cost the party 10 of its 11 MEPs and left it in fifth place in the English council elections.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London